A Queen Elizabeth Cake, with delicious broiled coconut caramel butter cream topping.
Today is Queen Elizabeth’s 90th Birthday. It’s hard to imagine her that old, given how active she still is! I hope I am still greeting the public in perfect form with a gleaming perfect smile at that age.
The honor of creating the Queen’s birthday cake was given to the most recent winner of the wildly popular Great British Bake Off on BBC. Her name is Naida Hussein. As an English born Muslim woman who wears a head scarf, Hussain represents a modern Britain. Originally nervous and ready to turn down this golden opportunity, she finally decided she couldn’t say no to the Queen. She will be making an orange drizzle cake with butter cream frosting and a marmalade filling for Her Majesty.
Great British Bake Off winner, Nadia Hussain, and the Queen.
There’s another cake, popular in Canada, called Queen Elizabeth Cake or just Queen’s cake. I tasted it many years ago on a business trip to Montreal in November to visit a lottery printing customer of ours. Yes, we chose the coldest time of the year for our visit, and I recall about a foot of snow on the ground. I was having dinner with my coworkers, Larry, our lab manager, and his assistant, Ann, at a typical Montreal pub the evening before the visit, when we sampled this Canadian delicacy.
I relayed to my co-workers the story from my adolescent days when I was a big collector of autographed pictures of famous people. I had written to and received autographed photos from the likes of Jim Henson, actor Jimmie Stewart, and even Ronald and Nancy Reagan. So, given my success rate, I wrote to the Queen at Buckingham, asking for her autograph. Several weeks later I received a haughty letter from one of Her Majesty’s Ladies-in-Waiting, who said I surely couldn’t expect the Queen to respond to all requests for her autograph, given all the important duties to which she must attend. I think I even heard a big cackly British laugh while I was reading those words. Wow, I even told the Queen my mother’s family was descended from English Yeoman – how rude!
The Queen Elizabeth cake was created for her 1953 Coronation. Post World War II rationing was still in existence, so it consisted of just a few ingredients. It is made with sugar, flour, dates, eggs, and butter, and topped with a sugary icing infused with shredded coconut. The coconut topping is broiled or grilled and the icing is prepared using a caramel base – it’s reminiscent of the icing on a German-chocolate cake, which is appropriate, given Queen Elizabeth’s German ancestry through her great-grandfather Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg. The dates used are chopped, giving the cake a dark coloration. Chopped walnuts or other types of nuts are sometimes used atop the cake. Queen Elizabeth cake is low in fat compared to other cakes, and has a moist consistency. It is related to the Lazy Daisy Cake (which doesn’t contain dates) and Sticky Toffee pudding. It was even used as a popular type of wedding cake in Canada in the 1950s and 1960s.
Another story goes that this is the only cake that the Queen makes herself, and is actually her own recipe. It is supposed to be sold only for Church (of England) purposes at fundraising bake sales, and each piece is supposed to come with a recipe. It was also used by the Brownies after the war as a fundraiser. But there is no documentation in print or on the web that the Queen officially recognizes this as her cake or of the above story, although the recipe did appear in the 1953 Guide to the Coronation. If I were her, I’d endorse this cake, because it’s killer moist and delicious.
I hope she enjoys her orange drizzle, marmalade cake today. God save the Queen!